I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

19 July 2014

Six Birds

Tribal Recollections 3

The birds are floating in the night sky.
The moon is huge and round and golden.
The Mother sleeps inside a ring of stones:
great monoliths, tall and dark.
She lies on a bed of stone
with a stone pillow.

“Mother,” whisper the birds,
“We have loved you, how can we leave you
alone under the sky in the deepening dark?”
But she says nothing. She never stirs.

A large bird stays 
poised in the air above her,
gazing down. The protective wings
are outstretched over her. The blue fringe
on wings and tail makes a guiding signal
she can follow home ... if ever she wakes. 

The other birds are flying away
more and more distant, smaller and smaller
in the grey sky. A purple snake
undulates across the sand by her bed.
She murmurs in her sleep but doesn't wake.
If she would pick up the snake,
she would be a healer.

Submitted for Poets United's Midweek Motif: World Snake Day

The Speaker of Rivers

Tribal Recollections 2

The speaker of rivers
sets a bowl by the wide stream.
The fish are swift, and all colours.
The large fish is followed
by all the little fish,
swimming up river
past the tribal village
between the grass and the sand.
The bowl is filled
with something shiny
but we can't see exactly what.

The speaker of rivers
is nowhere to be seen. The bowl
is resting on a little mound
of built-up earth
created by the speaker's loving hands.
But now the speaker has gone away
into nearby wilderness.

We know the speaker has gone
to wilderness and not the village
because the bowl is not
on the village side of the stream.

The stream is deep blue
like the sky in the upper distance.
The lead fish, the big fish
is banded like a rainbow,
or like a woven mat of many stripes
or a blanket, something the women
would have done, while the men
hunted the fish.

"I speak for the stream,"
the speaker says, in a voice
resounding as if disembodied
through the blue air, over the grass.
"I speak for this and all the rivers.
Leave them clean for the sweet fishes."

Six Trees

Tribal Recollections 1

The trees are standing in sand
and waving their arms. 
They love me. Their deep green leaves
are up on tiptoe
the better to see me. My little dog
follows behind me, stretching 
and hollowing his back.
His tummy is almost rubbing the ground,
he is so ecstatic. Over behind a boulder
a snake wriggles quietly,
keeping out of our way.
We try not to see him,
while staying on our side of the track.

My hair in the wind
streams out behind me.
I am gazing up
into the wind and into the trees,
up to their leafy tops
above decorated trunks
where rings of different colours
and strange patterns of bark
tell me their age and their health.

Eyes look out from the trunks,
where small creatures hide 
in clefts in the bark
and birds perch almost unseen,
camouflaged, except 
for one in the sky
hovering — ready to alight
or starting to rise and leave? 
I don't know, but I see 
the bird is watching me too
as I linger under the six tall trees.

Tribal Recollections — a Series

I've begun a new series of poems inspired by Rachel Pollack's "Shining Tribe" Tarot deck. (Mine is so old it has the original name, Shining Woman, but she has renamed it since.) This happened yesterday, when I stood in as facilitator of a writers' group, and thought I should devise something a bit different as a writing exercise. I chose this deck because the images are unusual, interesting and evocative.

I passed the cards around and told each person to choose one and write whatever occurred to them on looking at the image. They loved it, and demanded that we keep choosing new cards and doing this exercise for the rest of the session.

I also loved the results I got, just letting my mind explore the image and wander wherever it led.

As a professional Tarot reader, I can say these thoughts had no direct relation to the Tarot meanings of the cards. As I entered into the images, I felt as if I were remembering things I had experienced. Past life recall? Genetic memory? Universal consciousness? Or just imagination, and free association?

I don't know, and I even don't really care. I like these strange poems for what they are. I use the word "recollections" in the series name rather than "memories" because, while I do want to suggest they might be that, I also want to suggest making a collection, and putting fragments together.

The poems will appear in the three following posts, and then from time to time as I am moved to write more. They will be accessible as a group via the Tribal Recollections tag (see bottom of page).

18 July 2014

Temporary Return

The memory of Eddie
is here like a ghost
walking the white cement paths
of the Neighbourhood Centre,
or coming up the wooden steps
into the Sandbar Room
with his bag slung over his back,
letting it slip from his shoulder
and fishing his notebook out.

I must be a ghost here myself
most Fridays: a haunting
memory — to some. Already
there are new faces. Today,
filling in for Cheryl
who runs the writers’ group now,
I introduced myself
to someone who’d never met me,
although she had heard my name.

“Oh — you’re that Rosemary
they talk about,” she said,
then spoke of bringing her poems
to Cheryl for advice.
Which is as it should be ...
and it was good
to see the familiar,
yet strange to hear of projects
they hadn’t yet dreamed, before.

Nan’s hair is whiter. (So is mine.)
And gentle Marie has gone
with her beautiful words.
But we know she’ll be writing her journal
still, in her new home.
Eddie posts photos from Thailand,
looking happier than he ever was here.
And I nurture my own writing now.
It is well. I let the ghosts fade.

3 July 2014

A Beginning

Her grandmother, my friend,
brings her to meet a witch.
She is shy at first but soon thaws.

“I want you to accept your gift,”
the grandmother says. I can see
the girl already does. Unlike

we older women, who struggled,
wondered if we were crazy,
had to hide until we grew tough.

This one’s 13, dances with it,
not afraid. And not a witch
so much as a psychic medium.

I give her a few tips, anecdotes
and my phone number.
She thanks me.  It seems I helped.

Once I was told, this was my job,
to mentor the “new children” coming.
They enter their teens. I begin.